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The Election Process


Saddam HusseinFormer dictator - Saddam Hussein

For the first time in over 40 years the people of Iraq will be able to vote in a wide-ranging general election.

Sami Ramadani, senior lecturer at London Metropolitian University and Yahia Said, research fellow at LSE on whether voters will register for Iraqi elections next week (22/1/05).
Iraqis go to the polls this weekend but the violence is expected to increase. Edward Stourton is in Baghdad (25/01/05).
A woman at the ballot box

Ballot papers will be marked with indelible ink.

BBC Iraq analysis

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Al-Zarqawi has threatened potential voters

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has threatened potential voters.
The Khat plant

The threat of violence may prevent voters turning out.
The insecurity in Iraq has severely affected the build-up to the election. Campaigning has been hampered and restricted by necessity to certain areas, candidates have avoided making their names public out of fear of retribution, election workers have been harrassed and in some cases killed, and offices of political parties/factions have been bombed and attacked.

There are huge concerns about what will happen on polling day itself. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has declared 'war' on democracy and the election and there are real fears of violence on the day itself. There are also fears that people won't vote out of fear of harassment or being targeted by insurgents.


On 30th January 2005 Iraqis will go to the polls for the first elections since the US/British invasion in March 2003. There will actually be three elections in January 2005:
1. Iraqi National Assembly Election
2. Kurdistan National Assembly Election
3. Regional Governorate Councils

Only people in the Kurdish areas will vote for the Kurdistan National Assembly.

The key election is the National Assembly. This is a 275 seat body that will act as the legislative body for the Transitional Government.

The election marks the end of the Interim Government phase of the post-war political re-development of Iraq and the start of the Transitional Government. The Transitional phase will end once a new constitution is approved in a referendum and a second election is held. The end goal is the election of a permanent Iraqi government based on a nationally approved new constitution.


The election will use a list system based on proportional representation with the entire country acting as one constituency. The 275 seats in the National Assembly will be divided up in proportion to the number of votes a party list receives. The parties will allocate their portion of seats themselves using a list system, so if a party fields a 200-person list and is allocated 15 seats, the top 15 names will be given seats in the Assembly.

In addition, 25% of the seats in the assembly must go to women, therefore every third candidate in the list must be a woman to ensure the quota is reached.


All eligible voters:

  • Must be registered (registration period was 1 Nov - 15 Dec 04)
  • Must be an Iraqi citizen, entitled to reclaim Iraqi citizenship or be eligible for Iraqi citizenship
  • Aged 18 or over
  • Iraqis in 14 countries are eligible to vote at 74 centres
  • Voting to take place over 2 days on 29th and 30th January
  • Registration period extended by 2 days to Tuesday 25 Jan, began on 20th January
  • Estimated 1 million eligible to vote
  • Estimated 5,220 polling centres with over 29,000 polling stations (estimates do vary though)
  • Centres open at 0700 local time till 1700
  • Indelible ink will used to mark voters fingers
  • Over 12,400 observers and a further 12,600 political entity agents (i.e. from parties or lists) accredited so far (deadline 26 Jan)
  • Elect new President
  • Elect two-vice Presidents
  • President and two-vice Presidents to select a Prime Minister
  • Prime Minister to select cabinet members and submit choices to Assembly
  • Assembly to approve new cabinet
  • Form committees to begin drafting new constitution

Approximately 14-15 million Iraqis are eligible to vote, including an estimated 1 million who live abroad (Iraqi Electoral Commission via Human Rights Watch). Iraq has an estimated population of 24.5 million.


Votes will be counted in the governorates and results then taken to Baghdad. Out of Country votes will be counted in the country and results sent to Baghdad. Counting begins at 1700 Iraq time after ballot boxes closed.

The elections are being overseen by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. Iraqi police and the National Guard will provide security for polling stations on the day although they may choose to ask the US-led MultiNational Force to help if required.

Religious and ethnic groups in Iraq


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